Michael and Anna Coughlan run two properties: Michael’s family property ‘Tarabah’ at Morundah and their home farm ‘Mt Narra Narra Station’ at Holbrook. Both Michael and Anna come from long time farming families, Michael’s family running their Morundah operation since 1925 and Anna’s family farming at Khancoban for over a 100 years. They bought their first property together in 1995 at Holbrook and joined a bench marking group where ‘good producers’ were producing beef for 95c/kg and selling it for 90c/kg. They realised something had to change.
Anna “We came across Allan Savory’s teachings and did Holistic Management training in 1998 and again in 2008. It was atfer the 2008 course that we formed the support group that makes up the heart of 8 Families. Since then we have ceased all cropping, hay making, spreading fertilisers, drenching, vaccinating, using pesticides or herbicides and we’ve sold all our sheep. This meant we radically reduced the cost of our inputs.
Outside of the economics, other fantastic things have occurred.
Michael ‘There have been numerous changes, but one of the greatest is the improvement in ground cover. This has lead to improvements in the way nature cycles so that water, minerals, energy and organisms support one another to good health. Our animals are healthy and resilient and so is the land. We have completely nullified soil movement and therefore erosion. In general our biodiversity is so much better”
Michael and Anna have 5 children, 4 girls and 1 boy in the middle and believe as custodians of the land they should leave it in better condition for their children and future generations. Luckily improving their environment and their bottom line are entirely compatible under Holistic Management.
Anna ‘”We just love the simplicity of it all: seeing a big herd of cattle moving when the gate is opened; the quality time we now have and the ever increasing biodiversity. For example since we started managing this way 2 endangered species have been discovered on our farms – the Plains Wanderer bird and a little freshwater fish called the Pygmy Perch”
The Coughlans now produce beef for 30c/kilo and have doubled the size of both original properties.
Michael “Over the years we’ve become very clear about the things we can control and the things we can’t. We can control our costs, we can control how we grow our grass and how we heal the land. We can’t control the weather and market prices. We can sleep easily at night, knowing we have influence over as much as we can. And amazingly this results in doing the‘right thing’ for our land, our animals, our children and our community”
Michael and Anna are passionate about this style of farming and regularly asked to share their story and host visitors to their farms eager to know more.
Anna “We tell them that the only way we have discovered to create healthy soils and land in a brittle environment, is to restore large ruminant animals to the landscape. This gives us the multiple result of a sustainable income, a healthy consumer sought product and a healthy environment. We love it”